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Thursday, December 15, 2005


Other Unions: Moffett exits by attacking 'selfish' clubs

By David Hands, Rugby Correspondent

MORE than 1,000 guests mingled at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last night in celebration of 125 years of Welsh rugby. They did so amid a sense of continued optimism that rugby union in Wales, with a grand slam safely tucked away last March and positive developments afoot in the community game, is heading in the right direction at last.

That they could enjoy such a sense of wellbeing owes much to the efforts of a man who was born in England (he prefers to specify Yorkshire) and who has spent most of his life in Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

David Moffett, 58, stepped down nearly 11 weeks ago as chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and has been, in his words, an “agent for change”. In three short years he has cut away at the chains that kept Welsh rugby bound to the past, attracted rivers of criticism and delivered a variety of barbs of his own.

Despite his English roots, he has the Australasian way of calling a spade a bloody shovel and he regards as failure his inability to bring some sense of coherence to the northern-hemisphere season. Clubs on either side of the Channel are “particularly selfish”, he says, and the way the season is structured is “stupid”.

He will return to the southern hemisphere with words of advice for his erstwhile counterparts in Europe that he knows will not be well received. Moffett will tell anyone who cares to listen that a European league would be the answer to the mishmash of competitions that bedevil progress and would still leave the Six Nations Championship as the jewel in the northern crown.

He dislikes administrators sheltering behind commercial agreements with broadcasters and sponsors as an excuse to postpone change and believes that both these shareholders in the game would receive more for their money from one high-quality, pan-European competition. “I have given up in the last six months,” he said. “I have spoken to all the home unions and they say we would never get it through. But, as it is, the southern hemisphere is laughing at people here.

“We have to learn that less is more, otherwise you will end up with just three sub-international professional tournaments in the world: the Super 14, the French championship and the Guinness Premiership. If anyone thinks that’s good for world rugby, then go on down that line.

“The French and English clubs are particularly selfish. I don’t think they or their owners understand the real dynamics of rugby as opposed to football. The football model is the last thing rugby needs to follow. Only a handful of clubs are likely to win their competitions and we are reaching that point in the European Cup.

“We have been guilty of thinking more is better in Wales, but if you look at sport generally, the most valuable competition outside the Olympic Games and football’s World Cup is the NFL in the United States. Sixteen weeks, 32 teams playing in conferences with play-offs and the Super Bowl.

“In the southern hemisphere, the Tri-Nations and Super 14, played over 16 weeks, fund the whole community game. They look at the demands made on players in Britain, at the injuries to players, while they are on the beaches.

“It’s all because of the stupid system here and the scandal is that there is no real desire to address it. There is a very cursory review going on about the so-called integrated season, but the southern hemisphere doesn’t need to change.”

In Moffett’s view, a European league, building on the success of the Heineken Cup and played in three conferences, would supersede the Premiership in England, the French championship and the Celtic League. It would reduce playing demands and the need for outsize squads, bring clarity for player and spectator alike and would not impinge on the Six Nations, which generates about £45 million a year for a seven-week competition.

Yet he will depart with a justified sense of achievement, having helped to create a streamlined playing structure for the professional game in Wales, forced through a more manageable structure for the debt owed on the Millennium Stadium and designed the backdrop from which Welsh rugby has regained global respect.

“This has been the hardest job I have done,” Moffett said. “I have a simple view of how to run a business: income has to exceed costs. That’s the case now in Wales — we are budgeting this year for a £6 million profit. I’ll leave it up to others to judge the extent of the difference I have made.”


AUSTIN HEALEY, the Leicester and former England utility back, will finish as a full-time rugby player at the end of this season. He will continue to appear for Leicester as a part-time player, but a new career opportunity lies in wait. Healey, 32, won 51 England caps from 1997 to 2003 and made two Lions tours. His new job, still under wraps until he has signed a contract, is not involved with sport

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  
And now you ask me why I have it in for you Wes....

Why can't we have someone like this, an agent for change with a hardnosed attitude that calles a spade a bloody shivel in charge of our rugby for three or four seasons.

Not a self serving money crazt meglomaniac like Louis Luyt, but someone else dedicated to the game and free from possible interference or influence of the administrators.

Of course that would not work because those self same administrators are the ones that choose this person.

And THAT is why SARU should list on ALTX.
Ok, i'm deleting those comments davidS  
Have I at last managed to Log in,

You have indeed, Patrick!  
Nice other unions: moffett exits by attacking selfish clubs post! Thanks for intesting info! More Austin-Healey can be found at  
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